The Importance of a Unified Breed

I would like to address some questions that members have been asking ASA board members. I hope the comments and information provided in this Association Outlook will resolve some of these inquiries.

There appears to be concerns from some breeders or membership regarding how much funding is being spent on commercial advertising vs. show promotion. This is easy to answer; the numbers don’t lie. I am going to be a little like the infomercials we see on TV and tease you by addressing some issues before getting to your answer.

First, I hope that as a Shorthorn breeder or member you agree that the most important part of any promotional campaign is that Shorthorn cattle are being publicized which of course, helps the breed. When the breed is exposed, all Shorthorn breeder’s benefit.

The promotion of show ring animals vs. commercial or bull production question originates with breeders who are devoting their resources to one or the other. I understand their interest is directed to the marketing that benefits their personal operational agenda. I want to assure all members and all breeders that the ASA has many members whose purpose in raising Shorthorn cattle is not the same. It is the position of the ASA, staff and Board of Directors that we provide customer service for the needs of all membership as much as possible. It is also important to provide a united front as a breed. This business of only looking at the breed as a show ring breed or a commercial breed will present failure in the future. It is time to have a united focus that betters all segments of the breed and respects each other’s choices or reasons to raise Shorthorn cattle. True breed growth will only transpire when we as a membership show respect and present a unified image.

In the Hereford breed when the polled association and the Hereford (horned) association merged, the ranks were sharply divided, and it took years to overcome. Only after each group conceded some devout beliefs and narrow views, did each segment gain respect for the other. The breed united and flourished. And, as their breed became more commercially accepted, their show type animals sored in price and the breed grew in popularity. If we evaluate other breeds in the industry the same type of progression transpired. It is important to have a commercial base under a breed for all involved to reap the benefits.

Now, to answer the original questions. First, the audit for the past fiscal year, showed the ASA spent $108,000 on breed promotion last year this is up from $78,000 the previous year. All show expenses, premium monies, and advertising of any type that benefit the breed are included in the total for breed promotion. Last fiscal year, 45% of total breed promotion was spent on show promotion and expenses. The remaining 55% went to general ASA advertising; including commercial advertising. When I go back to 2016-2017 fiscal year, the $78,000 breaks out very similarly, with around 46% being shows and expenses with the remaining 54% for general ASA advertising; including commercial advertising. Both gross breed promotion amounts include all co-op advertising contributed by the ASA. Perhaps some of these questions arose because the American Rancher shows primarily feature commercial type operations. Just so everyone knows, the time each breeder gets on the show is paid for by that breeder. It is their time to tell the industry about what they do. Some who have paid to be part of this program would be considered both commercial and show operations. Yes, they do exist – breeders who are doing both. They produce commercial cattle and show cattle, and market both. If you are interested in participating in a future American Rancher show, please feel free to contact me.

The next question may be how many ASA members are show and how many are commercial. There is really no way to determine this number. We are all members of the ASA and the goal we have in common is to promote the Shorthorn breed. The vast majority of the animals exhibited at ASA national shows are ET born calves. Around 10% of all registrations are ET calves and around 50% of those are shown at national shows. There are many, many breeders who do both – run a commercial operation and support the regional show system, state fairs and/or county fairs – an important function that keeps Shorthorn in front of the industry at the grass roots level. These folks fall into a combination show-commercial group. The ASA does not have this type of information showing how many breeders are combination show-commercial operations. Polling from the 2015 Impact Conference does show that a majority of our membership/breeders most likely fall into this category as a combination show-commercial operation.

As an Association and Board of Directors we want to be transparent. Everyone wants what is best for the ASA and the Shorthorn breed, your Board and staff work every day to try and maintain that. Many things are changing in our industry and will continue to change. It becomes important for us to make the adjustments that keep us up to speed with the technology our industry provides. I believe our breed is making good strides with new memberships and producing quality Shorthorn cattle. The selection process of improving the cattle in our breed is always evolving. The animals we see in the show ring today contribute to the commercial industry and bull market. The bulls being raised contribute to the show ring. It is important that we maintain this crossover and united front as breed. Remember, we are judged by both the show ring and our bull sales and it is equally important that both excel and provide a similar type of animal that can contribute to all segments.

Together, we are the American Shorthorn Association!

Written by: Montie Soules, Executive Secretary/CEO

An In-Depth Look at Selection Indices: Part 3

We’ve reached the finale in the series of articles discussing the lineup of available selection indices for Shorthorn breeders and customers. After covering the basics of what goes into a selection index in January, and further explaining $Calving Ease and $Feedlot in February, March finds us with two final pieces of the index puzzle to piece together: $British Maternal Index ($BMI) and $Fescue.

$British Maternal Index

The written definition of $BMI on the ASA website is as follows:

“This multi-trait selection index attempts to measure a bull’s potential profitability when complimenting the British cow base (Angus, Red Angus, Hereford, etc.) in a maternal breeding program. Shorthorn females can likewise be gauged at adding value to British or British-composite bulls of other breeds. A balance of growth (WW) and carcass traits (REA, Fat, MB) are desired with a strong maternal component (CED, Milk, CEM) aimed at moderate mature size (YW), optimum reproductive efficiency and cow longevity.”

A few points of emphasis can be gleaned from this Websteresque definition. First and foremost, you can figure out that there are several traits of interest included in $BMI. In a more comprehensive scenario like this one, there are more traits that become involved. I think you will notice that the production situation outlined in this index is more complex than $Feedlot, and certainly more involved than $Calving Ease. Many of America’s commercial cattle producers have their programs set up with management similar to what is described in $BMI: British-based cows, selling calves at weaning, and retaining replacements heifers.

With most commercial cattlemen selling calves at weaning, the economic drivers of this sector of their enterprise are ive calves and pounds of calf at weaning. With that in mind, it makes perfect sense for the CED and WW EPDs to play a significant part of $BMI. Weaning weight has arguably the most significant impact on $BMI of any included traits. When retaining females for the breeding herd, they need to be able to have a live calf, produce milk to raise that calf, and do so in a moderate mature size. While we have EPDs to measure two of these 3 traits (CEM and Milk), we have to use YW as an indicator trait for mature size since there is a not current EPD for mature cow weight in the Shorthorn genetic evaluation. A higher YW EPD has a more negative impact on $BMI, as bigger YW indicates a larger mature cow size. Even though it is not a direct point of emphasis in the scenario outlined for $BMI, carcass traits (REA, Fat, Marb) do play a role in the calculation, albeit smaller than the other traits outlined. Once these cattle are sold at weaning and enter the feedlot, the ones with the genetic capability to perform on the rail become more valuable to feeders.

When the $BMI index was developed, The American Shorthorn Association did not have a Stayability EPD to include in $BMI. Obviously, the ability of a female to stay in the cow herd productively has an impact on her ability to add profit to the ranch’s bottom line. Like I mentioned in the previous article for $Feedlot, it’s not as easy to edit an index as to just stick the Stayability EPD into the $BMI formula and it still work properly. There have been several discussions amongst staff, ASA BOD and breeders involved in ASA committees on the best way to improve this index going forward.

$Fescue

The youngest and most unique member of the Shorthorn index lineup is $Fescue. The components of $Fescue are very similar to $BMI, but with an added genomic piece to the puzzle. The addition of $Fescue is only for those animals who have had the Fescue Tolerance T-Snip test that is offered by AgBotanica performed and recorded with ASA. The test results are reported on a 0-50 scale, with cattle scoring a 50 considered to be most tolerant of toxic fescue. Research from AgBotanica indicates that cows with incrementally higher scores for the fescue tolerance test weaned off heavier calves than those with lower scores (40s weaned off heavier calves than 30s, who weaned off heavier than 20s, etc.)

The methodology behind $Fescue includes the calculation of $BMI with the Fescue Tolerance test score incorporated into the equation as a weighted factor. With the research conducted by AgBotanica showing how much of an effect the score has on weaning weight produced, it was possible to weight the score into a selection index. The most logical piece to incorporate with $Fescue is $BMI, as a production scenario that is most likely to be impacted by grazing toxic fescue is a cow/calf situation like the one outlined for $BMI.

Wrap Up
With this look into the components of each selection index that is offered to ASA members, hopefully you now have a better idea of what makes up these tools and have more confidence to use them in your mating decisions. As always, these are just a few of the available tools out there to help you breed better cattle. A tool is only useful if it’s used properly, and only using one tool to try and do a complex job (like breeding cattle) can prove very difficult. Use your knowledge of your herd, in addition to the available tools like EPDs and selection indices, to make the most informed decision.

Written by Matt Woolfolk, Director of Performance Programs

2017 ASA/University of Illinois Sire Test Performance Review

A journey that has been several years in the making reached its destination just before Christmas when the first calf crop from the ASA National Sire Test (NST) at the University of Illinois were harvested. The process of cultivating the opportunity with Dr. Dan Shike at U of I from the day that the cattle were harvested, following this plan through to fruition has been no simple task for the Shorthorn breed. My hats off to all the breeders, ASA board members, and staff who were able to get this program initiated in 2016. I have enjoyed being able to work with this program since coming on board at ASA, but it would not have been such a seamless transition if not for all the groundwork and foresight in establishing the program. With all this data and information collected, I’m sure one of the prevailing questions is “What did we learn from this test?” In my mind, that’s a complex question with multiple solutions (which I’ll try to answer later on). Depending on your perspective, there’s several takeaways that can be gleaned from these test results. I will share some of my thoughts and perspective, but ultimately, I think that everyone should study this data and form their own opinions. Read more about the Performance Review

An In-Depth Look at Selection Indices: Part 2

I kicked off 2019 by beginning this series on the selection index lineup we have available to Shorthorn breeders and their customers. In the January issue, a basic overview of selection index technology was provided in Part 1. With the concepts of how selection indices are constructed laid out, it’s time to go deeper into the specific indices that are available in the Shorthorn genetic evaluation. In this installment, I’m going to provide you some more information on two of our selection indices; $Calving Ease and $Feedlot.

$Calving Ease ($CEZ)
The $Calving Ease index in our genetic evaluation is the simplest in terms of the number of traits included. This index is designed to identify the bulls that are best suited for use in breeding heifers. Bulls with a high $CEZ value are the bulls that are expected to sire offspring that calve unassisted and then grow out to a moderate mature weight. To meet that goal, the EPDs included in $CEZ are Calving Ease Direct (CED) and Yearling Weight (YW). CED is weighted heavily in this index, while YW is taken into consideration as an indicator trait for mature weight, which we do not have an EPD for currently. Higher growth cattle (the ones with really high YW EPDs) will see their $CEZ impacted more heavily than moderate YW EPD cattle, as the index is designed to select for cattle that will reach a moderate mature weight. Currently, the average of all non-parent cattle in the Shorthorn database for $CEZ is 28.10. Cattle in the top 25% of the breed have a $CEZ of 36.56 or greater, while cattle in the top 10% will boast a 46.10 or greater $CEZ.

$Feedlot ($F)
For those of you who retain ownership of feeder cattle, or might have customers that do so, the $Feedlot index is designed with that production scenario in mind. Sires that excel in $F are expected to sire feeder calves that will grow rapidly and produce a carcass that can grade very well on a quality scale. The $Feedlot has a few more pieces to it when compared to $Calving Ease. The EPDs included in $F include CED, Weaning Weight (WW), YW, Fat, Ribeye Area (REA), and Marbling (MB).

I’m sure the first thing that catches your attention from this list is the inclusion of CED. CED is incorporated into $F because even though this is a terminal index with growth and end product emphasized, completely ignoring calving ease could lead to dystocia problems, even in a terminally-focused operation. Therefore, CED is included in $F, albeit in a smaller emphasis than the other traits involved. As you would expect, growth and carcass merit are highlighted in $F. Of all of the carcass traits (Fat, REA, and MB), MB is more heavily emphasized than the others, as quality-based premiums and improving carcass quality grade are increasingly important in the industry. Both growth traits are more heavily emphasized in $F than CED and the carcass traits. After all, even at harvest, cattle are still sold by the pound, and cattle that grow are more likely to produce heavier (and more valuable) carcasses. Yearling Weight is used as an indicator trait for Carcass Weight, with the reasoning being that when $F was developed several years ago, there was no Carcass Weight EPD to include. Unfortunately, implementing Carcass Weight in place of YW is not as simple as taking one number out and putting another in.

As of the time that this was written, the average of non-parent Shorthorn cattle for $F is 52.35. For an animal to be in the Top 25%, the $F must be 54.51 or greater, and a $F of 57.04 qualifies in the Top 10% of non-parent Shorthorns. Hopefully, having some insight into what goes into our stable of selection indices gives you a better idea of how they might be beneficial to use in your breeding programs. It’s hard to use something when you don’t understand how it works, whether it is a power tool, an electronic device, or a selection index. In the next issue of Shorthorn Country, Part 3 of this series will tackle the $British Maternal Index, as well as the $Fescue.

Written by Matt Woolfolk, ASA Director of Performance Programs

An In-Depth Look at Selection Indices: Part 1

A hot topic in the hallway at the ASA Annual Meeting in Kansas City was the use of selection indices and the tools we have available in the Shorthorn breed. Selection index technology wasn’t an official topic in the educational forum, but I believe there was a lot of interest and educating going on among many breeders in attendance. There was a lot of good information and philosophy spread amongst breeders, and I hate that everyone couldn’t be in attendance to be a part of these discussions. That spurred the idea to spend a few months writing about selection indices, how they work, and what we have available in the Shorthorn breed at this time for you to use in your breeding programs. In order to get the best view we can at the whole picture, I think it’s only fitting that we start with the basics before diving into the more specific material.

The development of selection indices in the beef cattle industry are a relatively new addition to genetic evaluations. After EPDs came along, the idea to combine some of those genetic predictors into a single figure to attempt to gauge economic and genetic merit led to the implementation of the selection index. A selection index is intended to give a cattleman a relative economic value for an individual animal when in a specific production scenario. Traits that are important to a scenario are identified and included in an equation. The traits in the equation are weighted based on their economic value in the individual production scenario. Depending on the situation, some traits will be weighted significantly in the calculations, while others may only play a small role in the final output. Simply put, a selection index is like a long, complicated algebra formula, but instead of just X and Y for variables, there are a LOT more, with some indices having nearly enough components to have variables A through Z!

Usually, an association will offer several selection index options to their membership to try and meet several of their breeding objectives. Each index is calculated from a specific production situation, and it is important to know and understand those situations when studying an index. An index built for a breeding program of mature cows may not be as effective for you if you are looking to breed heifers. An index built with retained ownership of feeder cattle in mind may not quite fit your needs (or the needs of your customers) if selling calves at weaning is your main objective. Of course, whatever index is available to you may not be a perfect fit for your operation, but there’s a good chance that one or more indices will fit the needs of your program pretty well.

A selection index is designed to help breeders improve genetic merit without the drawbacks of single trait selection that can sometimes occur when using a single EPD to make breeding decisions. We all know that multiple traits must be taken into consideration when evaluating what makes profitable cattle in any situation, and a selection index is the best tool we have of predicting which animals can work in an environment.

The American Shorthorn Association has four available selection indices available for breeder use in their mating and selection decisions. They include $Calving Ease, $British Maternal Index, $Feedlot and $Fescue. In future issues, I will go into more detail about the components and uses of each index. Identifying traits of importance, the production scenarios designed for each index, and how we can use them as Shorthorn breeders and commercial seedstock producers will be discussed.

In the ever changing world of beef cattle genetic evaluation and selection, the use of the selection index is growing increasingly popular with commercial bull buyers. As providers of commercial seedstock, I hope that you feel it is part of your responsibility to understand and assist your customers in finding and using the proper selection index that meets their operation’s criteria. Hopefully, I will be able to fulfill my responsibility to give you the information you need to accomplish this goal over the next few articles!

NEW BOARD MEMBERS AND OFFICERS

During the American Shorthorn Association Annual Meeting on December 1, delegates from all over the country gathered to elect new ASA board members.

The nominating committee submitted three candidates for the available positions. Hugh Mooney, a board member from California, was elected for his second term. John Sonderman from Columbus, Nebraska, and Toby Jordan from Rensselaer, Indiana, were elected for their first term to the ASA board. They will serve a three-year term.

Following the Annual Meeting, the board met to elect new officers, for the nine-member board. The new president of the board is Rick Leone of Colorado, vice-president is Nancy Grathwohl-Heter of Kansas, and the executive director is Hugh Mooney of California. They serve alongside Tom Turner of Ohio, Joe Bales of Tennessee, Robert Alden of Missouri, Dave Greenhorn of Ohio, Toby Jordan of Indiana, and John Sonderman of Nebraska.

2018 KILE National Shorthorn Show Results

On October 6, 2018 Shorthorn exhibitors competed at the National Shorthorn Show at Keystone in Harrisburg, PA. Judge Chuck Lemenager from Fairbury, IL, evaluated a total of 70 head with 38 purebred females, 8 purebred bulls, 20 ShorthornPlus females and 4 ShorthornPlus bulls.

 

Grand Champion Female honors went to CF CSF Dream Lady 78 AV X ET exhibited by Cornerstone Farms of Winchester, IN.

SULL Grand Rose Mary 7025E ET was named Reserve Grand Champion Female, exhibited by Colten Anderson of Lake Village, IN.

Armstrong Easy Rider 1603 claimed the title of Grand Champion Bull, shown by John Allen IV of Sarver, PA.

Reserve Grand Champion Bull was GLF Spirit Fusion, exhibited by Henry Dodrer, Jr. of Westminster, MD.

In the ShorthornPlus show, Grand Champion Female was SULL Crystal’s Delight 7004E shown by Allison Walther from Centerville, IN.

Reserve Grand Champion ShorthornPlus Female was TSSC Blackberry Pie 829F exhibited by Reed Hanes of Celina, OH.

SMC King of the Jungle 1803 claimed the Grand Champion ShorthornPlus Bull, exhibited by Sadie Compagnola of Bath, PA.

Reserve Grand Champion ShorthornPlus Bull was Harmony White Storm shown by Annette Braun of Mechanicsville, MD.

AMERICAN SHORTHORN ASSOCIATION INTRODUCES GENOMIC TESTING INCENTIVE

In an effort to encourage breeders to genomically test more Shorthorn females, ASA is introducing the Genomically Enhanced Heifer Program (GEHP).

ASA will be offering incentive to breeders who take advantage of the uLD (25k) or 50k genomic test on their heifer crops. All heifers tested as a part of this program will have genomically-enhanced EPDs.

Breeders whose animals are eligible will receive a credit on their ASA account for a portion of the cost of the uLD or 50k genomic tests done on replacement heifers. This will give breeders the opportunity to genomically test females at a significantly discounted rate.

For a heifer to be eligible for the testing rebate, the following requirements must be met:

  1. Heifer must be born on or after January 1, 2017
  2. 75% of the yearling heifer inventory must be tested
  3. All heifers tested must have a recorded calving ease score, birth weight, weaning weight & yearling weight
  4. Heifers with recorded carcass ultrasound or feed intake records will receive an additional rebate

“The GEHP will allow Shorthorn breeders to add valuable genomic information to the future of their cow herds: the replacement heifers,” said Matt Woolfolk, ASA Director of Performance Programs. “ Additionally, the program will allow us to strengthen the ASA genomic database, which will significantly aid us in our commitment to offer the best genetic selection tools possible to ASA membership.”

If you have questions about this program, please contact Matt Woolfolk at ASA (matt@shorthorn.org).

STATE ASSOCIATION CO-OP ADVERTISING PROGRAM UPDATED GUIDELINES

STATE ASSOCIATION CO-OP ADVERTISING PROGRAM

  1. The state association coop advertising program is designed to help ASA and state associations share the cost of promoting the Shorthorn breed.
  2. Advertisement requests must be made by state association’s president, vice-president or secretary manager. Advertisements cannot be requested by groups of breeders or individuals.
  3. The ASA will reimburse 50% of the ad cost, up to a total of $650 per state per fiscal year.
  4. There are limited coop funds available for states in each fiscal year. No more coop ads will be funded when available funds have been utilized.
  5. Each state association must pay advertisement and send paid invoice to ASA to be reimbursed. ASA encourages the state association to include a copy of the ad placed with paid invoice.
  6. ASA will have 4 general ad choices and 2 contract ads for state associations to choose from. ASA encourages states to use contract ads for more Shorthorn promotion throughout the year.
    1. General Ads are a minimum of a quarter page in size and not larger than a full page in size.
    2. Contract Ads cannot be smaller than 1 column by 2 inches.
    3. Ads will have space to include the state association logo and contact information.
    4. Ads will include the ASA logo and contact information.
    5. Ads can include state events, dates and locations but not individual breeder information and dates.
    6. All ad requests must be submitted to ASA at least 5 business days before deadline. Ads will not be eligible for ad copy approval if received less than 10 business days before deadline.
  7. State Associations must provide the following ad specs to the ASA.
    1. Publication name, phone number and email address
    2. Ad Deadline
    3. Ad Size
    4. Full Color or Black & White
    5. State Association information to be included in ad
  8. State associations are required to meet above guidelines in order to be eligible to receive reimbursement for coop ads.

Guidelines updated September 26, 2018

Tulsa State Fair Super Regional Results

On Saturday, September 29, 2018, shorthorn enthusiast showed at the Tulsa State Fair. The Super Regional Show was judged by Shane Work of Manhattan, KS. Work evaluated 55 purebred females, 11 purebred bulls, 19 ShorthornPlus females and 5 ShorthornPlus bulls.

Grand Champion Female was awarded to RSF Simply Dessert Rose 3E exhibited by Ryan Lane of Siloam Springs, AR.

Reserve Grand Champion Female honors went to WHR Queen of Sonny 7N15 ET exhibited by Carolyn Norris of Rowlett, TX.

Grand Champion Bull was TJH Bo’s Maxim H7 exhibited by Crow Creek Farms of Lawton. OK.

Reserve Grand Champion Bull was J&M Maxim Silver ET shown by J & M Shorthorns of Perkins, OK.

In the ShorthornPlus show, Grand Champion Female honors went to JVCC Red Diamond 701 shown by Kadin Worthington of El Reno, OK.

Reserve Grand Champion ShorthornPlus Female was BOY Caroline D694 shown by Craylyn King of Hulbert, OK.

Grand Champion ShorthornPlus Bull was FSC Mr. Fireball exhibited by Brett Forgy of Caddo, OK.

Reserve Grand Champion ShorthornPlus Bull was CCF Nicholas C59E shown by Crow Creek Farms.